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THE UNCLAIMED DUCHESS
by Jenna Petersen

Genre: Regency Period, England, Historical Romance

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“Rhys,” she said softly, reaching for him.

He yanked away from her hand and got up from the bed, pacing to the window and pulling the curtain back to look outside. In profile, she saw his scowl, though all his angry emotions seemed to be self-directed.

“I can’t, Anne. I already told you I can’t make love to you,” he said, his voice strained with tension and emotions he normally hid.

She sat up, covering her breasts with the tangled bedcovers.

“Because you don’t want me?” she asked, unable to mask her hurt as easily as he seemed to mask his own.

He spun on her and now she felt some of the anger in his stare. In a long stride, he came to the edge of the bed and caught her hand. He jerked her fingers to his pant front and pressed them against the hard length of his erection that remained outlined there.

“I want you,” he whispered, his voice harsh. “But I can’t have you. I’ve told you why.”

Anne squeezed her eyes shut, fighting tears, fighting frustration and resentment at his repeated denials of the future she had so carefully planned.

Finally, he sighed. “I need to leave you now.”

Anne’s eyes flew open and she stared at him in terror. “Leave me?” she repeated, thinking of the horrible days she had spent searching for him.

He shook his head. “Just for a while. I’ll return, Anne, I promise you that.”

She opened her mouth to answer, but he turned his back on her and left the cottage before she could speak, slamming the door behind him...